One of the biggest challenges in District 13 is jobs. While running for office, I’ve knocked on a countless amount of doors, and jobs were a common complaint from residents.

With the $15 an hour minimum wage bill being vetoed, I began to focus on other job opportunities for residents in the district, such as apprenticeships.

Recently, I had the chance to attend the event “From Girls in the Hood: to Women in Construction”, hosted by the Baltimore Black Worker Center in Fells Point. There were women who shared their stories, some having criminal records, about how apprenticeships lead them to a career in construction. These women are now making $35 an hour and are the breadwinners in their families. Union jobs and apprenticeships are good opportunities for fair wages, financial stability and benefits.

These are the type of programs we want to focus on and deliver to the constituents in District 13.

Displaced Worker Protection Bill

Often times, I have heard the stories from families in District 13, who have been subject to financial burden, due to lay-offs. Receiving short notice to find a new job is hard and causes disruption within households. I understand, this is why I introduced the Displaced Worker Protection Act to protect working families. Employees under a service contract such as, security, janitorial, building maintenance or food preparation workers, are vulnerable to being laid off if the company’s contract changes, between different agencies, outsourced or brought in-house. The displacement workers protection bill would allot a 90-day grace period to experienced service employees under service contracts, giving the employees a fair chance to compete and keep their jobs.

The Displaced Workers Protection Act provides benefits to the company and its employees as well. For the company, it promotes high standards, reduces overhead and reveals their business ethics. While for the employees, it provides certainty for the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and experience to the new employer. It also prevents the damaging impact of sudden lay-offs for workers and their families. We are dedicated to finding and creating jobs for our constituents in the 13th District.

Henrietta Lacks Day

Henrietta Lacks

On April 24, I introduced legislation to make October 4th Henrietta Lacks Day in honor of her death on October 4th, 1951.

Ms. Henrietta Lacks was a black woman whose cervical cancer cells were taken without her consent or her family’s knowledge or consent, while being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital here in Baltimore. Further, her family has not received compensation for her genetic material. Since then, her cells known as HeLA, have been used to further our understanding and have been able to produce treatments and cures for diseases such as polio, cancer and HIV/AIDS.

We must remember the debt that we owe to Ms. Henrietta Lacks, and we must remember that her cells, that have furthered medical progress, were taken without her knowledge or consent.

Encouraging women to pursue construction as a career

Rachel Bryan figured she would wear pearls and a dress to an interview after she completed a pre-apprenticeship program for electricians 12 years ago.

“Wrong answer,” she said her trainers told her. “You want to dress like you’re going to work.”

It was one of the best pieces of advice she said she ever got.

While an feminine get-up would have been appropriate if she were interviewing for an office job, baggy jeans and boots were a better fit as Bryan pursued a career as an electrician.

Now a journey-level electrician and an international representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Bryan was one of six women who shared their stories of working in trades during a Saturday panel discussion about job opportunities for African-American women in construction.

Read the full story from the Baltimore Sun.